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The Art of Networking

Posted 05.05.2011

Looking for a job is a tiring and time consuming process.  Many candidates spend their time posting their CV’s on job boards and scouring websites for roles often with limited results.  The key to success is to combine these activities with getting out and networking.  Before embarking on any networking event it’s crucial you know how to make the most of the event and how to act, especially for those candidates who tend to be shy in such a situation!

Prepare

Before you attend an event, you must be prepared.  Ask yourself these questions:

• Why are you attending the event?

• What do you want to get out of the event?

• Who are you most eager to meet and connect with at the event?

Make sure you allow enough time to arrive at the event on time and are dressed appropriately.  Also make sure you are up to date on current affairs and have potential conversation topics prepared.  It helps to think of a few opening lines which will help you introduce yourself and get a conversation started.

Listen

Networking is all about building relationships and listening is an integral part of this process. Discover what is important to them by asking questions or covering topics that you have in common.  You should be listening a little more than 80% of the time during the conversation.  Active networking is not about talking continually it is about establishing a base from which you can make contact at another time.

Keep moving

Try not to stay chatting with the same person for most of the evening, sometimes this is the hardest part of networking.  Let them know you have enjoyed the chat but you don’t want to dominate their time.  Once you have exchanged contact details move on.  Make sure you utilize the opportunity to meet as many people as possible at each event.

Going solo

It’s fine to go to an event by yourself or to take someone with you if that makes you more comfortable, but if you do go in a pair make sure you don’t spend the evening only talking to each other! If you don’t know anyone at the event make sure you are assertive and introduce yourself to others people who are there alone. Don’t stand quietly at the side of the room make sure you mingle as much as possible.

Follow up

Finally the most important part of the event is that you follow up with the connections you have made.  Send them an email mentioning the event, invite them for a coffee to continue your conversation or connect with them on LinkedIn.  There is no point spending the time gaining contacts if you don’t have the courage to use them!

Charlotte Tatro is a Candidate manager on the FreshMinds Talent Graduate Team

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